The skills park is my primary responsibility as one of CROCT’s many volunteer trail workers. My motivation to work on it?
Our in-town Sechler Park MTB Trail is a river bottoms trail and doesn’t have a lot of challenging terrain. So having a skills park in the middle of it is way for local riders to practice their skills and challenge themselves
It’s handy to have a local skills park for instructional clinics. Kids who live in town can ride their bikes to the park via the local network of paved trails
I’m always working on my own riding skills and being able to construct features that are appropriate for my own development is a treat
Last summer, my interest in learning to jump via Ryan Leech’s Jumping with Confidence online course (affiliate link) spurred me to learn how to build beginner and intermediate level table top jumps. I had the full-time use a tractor with a bucket, free street reclamation dirt from the City of Northfield, a budget from CROCT to have it hauled in, and labor from other trail worker volunteers to help me shape, learn, test, and rebuild the jumps until we got them ‘good enough.’
By the end of the season, I’d gotten to where I could consider myself solid at beginner-level tabletops. Here’s a 1-minute video clip of me riding the 7 jumps that we built:
And the jumps proved to be a hit with kids and adventuresome adults, of course.
In addition to the 7 tabletop jumps (6 beginner-level, 1 intermediate-level), the skills park also now has:
This past summer, fellow mountain biker and uber volunteer Bill Nelson used his Ford Tractor to help CROCT, our local mountain bike club, fashion various obstacles in our new skills park area along our Sechler Park mountain bike trail. I soon became his apprentice operator and it inspired me to take on the role of skills park ‘dirt boss’ for the trail. More details and skills park photos in this CROCT blog post.
I’m a member of the CROCT Board here in Rice County MN and after witnessing the speed of vehicle traffic on the recently reopened Sechler Road (it’s closed to vehicles during the winter months), we made a quick decision last week to remove the ditch crossing bridge that we installed recently and reroute the trail directly over the creek prior to the gate at the north entrance to the park, keeping riders completely away from the road/pavement.
The creek crossing required a bigger bridge than the one we used for the ditch so the two bridges that a crew of CROCT volunteers fashioned from the wood of the old Mill Towns Trail bridge were put into service:
Last Tuesday, CROCT member John Ebling used his tractor to transport the bridges to the shoulder of Sechler Road near the creek crossings:
Peter Hark is a resident of rural Northfield, the DNR’s Field Operations Manager State Parks and Trails, and a Founding Supporter of CROCT. He joined me and Marty Larson on his first ride on the Sechler Park MTB trail on Wednesday, a day off for him because it was his birthday. He seemed to enjoy the ride and was complementary on what he saw. For a relatively new mountain biker, he’s not half-bad, and if he got a proper mountain bike with better tires he would definitely be more than marginally adequate.
The day I rediscovered mountain biking also happened to be the day I met John Gaddo (AKA ‘El Gato’). It was the grand opening weekend of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails back in June of 2011 and he was chauffeuring Hans “No way” Rey around, one of his many duties as a QBP staffer. I happened to be at a Crosby, MN pub when he and Hans came in for beers and dinner with Gary Sjoquist, Advocacy Director for QBP and Jeff Verink, sales rep with GT Bicycles. John told me he grew up in my hometown of Northfield, was into bicycle trials, and we’ve been colleagues ever since.